Tuesday, April 3, 2012

America's Musical Cornucopia?

During the epic event called the Second World War, America produced a plethora of composers writing hundreds of little masterpieces that History has labeled Pop Tunes. Along with these songs came a large number of gifted instrumentalists, vocalists and arrangers. The result is a treasure of musical story-telling that may well represent a Golden Age in American musical history.
Out of the horror of Man's most catastrophic struggle, with an estimated sixty million killed, emerged a period of really quite wonderful music in the form of countless little stories formed by both the tunes and the lyrics, created by a host of writers that happened, in large numbers, to converge during a period lasting but a few years.
To the contemporary listener, the music, and especially the words may sound a bit innocent and perhaps even somewhat mundane; however, do be reminded that this was indeed a different time with the core of much of the music emanating from a distant horror and a commensurate need to escape reality, even if it be for the length of a tune that lasts for about three minutes.
With such words as "don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me,"or "I'll never smile again until I smile at you," that seeming innocence reflects the essence of two lovers, torn from one another because of the raging conflict, and multiplied thousands of times during this period.
Many of the performers of these tunes, both instrumentally and vocally, include some of the most gifted of American musicians, many of them without formal musical training. Vocalists such as Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Mel Torme, Nat Cole, Margaret Whiting, Bob Eberle, Dick Haymes, Kate Smith and many more sang with such stellar performers as Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and his brother Jimmy, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Bing Crosby's younger brother Bob,Gene Krupa, Ziggy Elman, Claude Thornhill; to name but a few.
In truth, the number of world-class musicians singing and playing together was rather astounding, and may never be replicated.
For those of you interested, look these musicians up - I think that you will find this period in America's cultural history quite stunning.

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